KinderHop is published once monthly and written by Trip Styler’s Seattle-based kid ‘n family writer, Keryn.
Not everyone can be or wants to be a traveling family like ours. Some families prefer to stay home or take short domestic trips. Each of us has our own style, but is this a personal preference or does it run deeper? Is it really a cultural thing?
As I have crossed the globe with my little traveling tribe of men, I’ve noticed travel is a priority for many families across the world, especially in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. While traveling through Europe this past fall we met other families on holiday for the weekend or their mid-semester break. Their escapes weren't seen as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. It was just something they did, and the parents didn’t think twice about bringing the children with them.
1/ Aside from the fact that many countries in the EU are close together, why do Europeans hit the road and friendly skies more than their contemporaries in North America? Emiel who hails from the Netherlands and writes Act of Traveling thinks it’s because “living in such a small country we really depend on trade. In the early days---I'm talking 15 and 16th century---the Dutch sailed the world in order to explore and discover. We had big dreams for our small country. Traveling is in our genes.”
2/ Education has also played a large roll in how former jetset individuals and couples are now tackling travel as a family. Theodora of Escape Artistes was born and raised in the UK, but is now living the life of a digital nomad. She makes it work as a freelance writer, and home schools her son from destinations like Egypt and Laos. She says, “In the UK longterm travel is fairly normal; it's very common to take a GAP year before starting university, and spend a year traveling the world. Seizing the internet era, we continued this trend and set forth."
3/ Bethaney of Flashpacker Family was born in New Zealand and has been exploring ever since. “It's culturally ingrained in every New Zealander to head to the UK for a year or two after university. We call it our OE or Overseas Experience. The only way to visit Europe when you live so far away is to basing yourself there for an extended period. After doing my OE, I was hooked. Now that I have a family, I use the same mentality: pick a home base abroad and explore from there."
4/ Michelle of WanderMom is an expat from Ireland living in Seattle. She believes that it might be the familiar holding some families back. “When you come from a small country you learn not to expect normalcy when you travel. Before Ryanair I can't think of a single Irish travel brand I'd see outside Ireland. As a result you'd expect local customs and standards when abroad. I see many American friends expecting the familiar while traveling, which makes it more difficult for them to travel comfortably outside the US.”
Whether you believe it is a cultural trait or personal preference, you can never go wrong when you decide to pack up your family and show your kids the world by hostel or hotel. You will open their eyes, broaden their horizons and introduce them to their global contemporaries. Even if you only make it to the next city, state or province, showing your children pieces of the world is more than they ever knew before.
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[photos by via each family]